Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Phil Brown: Climbing the ‘Hundred Highest’

What’s a mountain climber to do once he or she has summited the Adirondack Forty-Six, the Catskill Thirty-Five, and the Northeast 115? Create a new list, of course.

And so we have the Adirondack Hundred Highest—the obsession of hard-core hikers who don’t mind surrendering a few pints of blood in their quest to stand atop the region’s tallest mountains.

The Hundred Highest includes the forty-six High Peaks first climbed by Bob and George Marshall and their guide, Herb Clark, in the first quarter of the last century. All of these peaks now have marked trails or obvious herd paths, so climbing them is not as difficult as it was in the Marshalls’ day.



Not so with most of the other fifty-four of the Hundred Highest. Thirty-nine of these peaks lack trails. Climbing them entails bushwhacking up streambeds, scrambling over or under fallen trees, and pushing through phalanxes of spruce that guard the summits. Those who undertake such a trek can expect to be poked, scratched, bruised, and bitten. It’s not for inexperienced hikers.

In 2007, Spencer Morrissey wrote a guidebook titled The Other 54 for adventurous souls aspiring to join the Hundred Highest club. Morrissey estimates that only forty or so hikers have done all the peaks. Those who qualify can request a patch from the Hundred Highest website.

Morrissey sold all 2,500 copies of the first edition of The Other 54 and has just come out with a second edition, which he published under his Inca-pah-cho Wilderness Guides imprint (the name derives from the Algonquin name for Long Lake, Morrissey’s hometown). It remains the only guidebook available to bushwhacking the pathless peaks.

The second edition updates trail conditions, describes several additional routes, and corrects many misspellings and grammatical errors (full disclosure: my son was the copy editor). In an improvement over the first edition, Morrissey arranges the chapters (one per peak) geographically rather than by the heights of the summits. This makes it easier to plan multi-peak treks. He could have made things even easier, though, by dividing the book into regions and including locater maps.

Most chapters include at least one black-and-white photograph. All include a topographical map showing the various routes to the summit. In the first edition, all the maps were grouped in a color gallery at the back of the book. The current layout is more convenient, but the tradeoff is the maps are black and white.

One odd feature is that Morrissey repeats directions unnecessarily. In the chapter on Lost Pond Peak, for instance, he describes four routes to the summit, all starting on the same trail at Adirondak Loj. Instead of providing the driving directions once, he repeats them at the start of each route description. Likewise, sections of the route descriptions are repeated. It’s like déjà vu all over again.

Given the author’s enthusiasm and sense of humor, it’s easy to forgive the book’s shortcomings. Besides, whatever its flaws, The Other 54 is essential equipment for Hundred Highest aspirants.

A more serious criticism (whether justified or not) is that the book will lead to environmental degradation on summits that are now pristine, just as the Forty-Sixer craze led to the creation of herd paths.

“You simply can’t have thousands of people doing this, or even hundreds, and hope to maintain the resource or wilderness qualities of this place,” says Jim Close, an avid hiker who has climbed the Hundred Highest himself.

Since the Marshalls, more than seven thousand people have climbed the Forty-Six. They were rewarded with grand vistas on most of the summits. One wonders how many of these hikers would have wanted to endure an arduous bushwhack up Sawtooth No. 5 for a glimpse of the horizon through the trees.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer. The above review is adapted from an article that will appear in the September/October issue of the newsmagazine.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps Reunions Planned



The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began on March 31, 1933 under President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to relieve the poverty and unemployment of the Depression. Camps were set up in many New York towns, state parks, & forests. Workers built trails, roads, campsites & dams, stocked fish, built & maintained fire tower observer’s cabins & telephone lines, fought fires, and planted millions of trees. The CCC disbanded in 1942 due to the need for men

in WW II.

At each upcoming event, author and historian Marty Podskoch will give a short Power Point presentation on the history, memories & legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps camps in New York. CCC alumni will share stories of their days in CCC camps both in New York and other

states.

Marty Podskoch will also have his new book: Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Its History, Memories and Legacy of the CCC available for purchase and signing. The 352-page book contains 185 interviews, over 50 charts

& maps, and over 500 pictures & illustrations.

Podskoch is also the author of five other books: Fire Towers of the Catskills: Their History and Lore, two Adirondack fire tower books: Adirondack Fire

Towers: Their History and Lore, the Southern Districts, and Northern Districts and two other books, Adirondack Stories: Historical Sketches and Adirondack Stories II: 101 More Historical Sketches
from his weekly illustrated newspaper column.

For those unable to attend this first reunion in Malone, there are four other reunions planned:

– August 15, 2011 at 10:00 am Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Ave., Schenectady, NY (518) 374-0263

– August 26, 2011 at 10 am Crandall Library, 251 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY (518) 792-6508

– August 26, 2011 at 6 pm Hamilton County Historical Society, at the former Speculator CCC camp and 4-H Camp, Lake Pleasant, NY; 7 pm the group will go to the Lake Pleasant School. 518) 648-5377

– September 23, 2011 at 1 pm Oneida Historical Society, 1608 Genesee St., Utica, NY (315) 735-3642

For more information on the reunion, contact Anne Werley Smallman, Director of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society at: (518)483-2750 or [email protected]

If any one has information or pictures of relatives or friends who worked at one of the CCC camps, please contact Marty Podskoch at: 36 Waterhole Rd., Colchester, CT 06415 or 860-267-2442, or [email protected]


Old Forge and The Fulton Chain of Lakes

Linda Cohen and Peg Masters, both descendants of 19th-century pioneer settlers of the Old Forge region, have written Old Forge and The Fulton Chain of Lakes (Arcadia Publishing, $21.99) the latest Adirondack edition in the Images of America series. Together they compiled over 200 images from around the area, many seldom seen.

Old Forge is nestled at the foot of the Middle Branch of the Moose River, more commonly known as the Fulton Chain of Lakes. Year-round accommodations at the Forge House in 1871 and dependable rail service in 1892 led to permanent settlement of the hamlet. Within a decade, Old Forge emerged as the residential and commercial hub of the Central Adirondacks and a popular destination and gathering place for guides, sportsmen, and wilderness tourists.

For the sightseer who strolls around Old Forge today or enjoys a cruise up the eight lakes in the Fulton Chain, the landscape is dotted with scores of century-old dwellings, Victorian cottages, rustic camps, and even a few grand old hotels.

Linda Cohen has been an active member of the local historical association and a board member since 2004. Peg Masters has served as the town historian for the past 10 years and conducts historic walking tours every summer.


Monday, August 1, 2011

The Life Struggles of Dean Clute (Part Three)

His initial success at bookselling was encouraging, but Dean Clute was looking for more, and it came from an unexpected source. His published article had caught the eye of one important reader who was so taken with his story, she became his benefactress. Though often portrayed as anonymous, her name was, in fact, Mrs. Ethel Clyde, whose husband was the principal owner of the Clyde Steamship Line.

Ethel gave Dean $2000 which he used to attain his dream of leaving the hospital and opening a bookstore. The money covered his expenses for one year, and he gave it his best shot, but with the economy in severe depression, prospects were not good. Store sales and his own articles failed to generate enough income to stay afloat.

No further charity was forthcoming, and in late 1931, Dean rented an apartment in Greenwich Village. He moved the store there as well, but had to reduce services and inventory, mostly handling mail orders.

As he struggled to survive, there were others who tried to help. Among them was famed media man Walter Winchell, whose “On Broadway” column in late October mentioned Gary Cooper, Kate Smith, Governor Franklin Roosevelt … and Dean Clute.

Winchell wrote: “Do you know anyone who would like to help Dean Van Clute keep running his book shop at 145 Waverly Place? He once was a pro baseball player and illness knocked him down—now a cripple. He was set up in this shop by a rich woman whose whim for philanthropy died easy—and needs another lift. Maybe you know somebody.” (Note: The family used the surname Clute, but Dean revived the “Van” for his authored pieces.)

Dean’s brother, Walton, was still by his side, assisting him in daily life and handling the store business. Without loyal, helpful friends and a loving brother, Clute’s existence would have been much less enjoyable.

For some time, Dean had been working with Walton on writing an “autobiographical novel.” The book was accepted for publication by Frederick Stokes Company and scheduled for release in late 1932.

In the meantime, there was more bad news. Dean was unable to pay his bills, and in April his phone service was cut off. In May he was $30 short on the rent, prompting the City Marshal to issue an ejection warning. A return to City Hospital was looming, but Dean didn’t seem worried, telling a reporter, “Aw, hell—it’s all in a lifetime.”

Forced to reduce expenses, he moved to a basement studio in Greenwich Village. The book business was mainly a lending service at that point, but another dream of Clute’s was fulfilled when his new digs became a popular stop-off for important figures on the literary scene.

The man Mencken had called “one of the most courageous men ever heard in this world” was further pleased when the book on which he and Walton had collaborated was released in the fall. Pour Wine for Us was well received.

One reviewer wrote: “… so moving a story of the solace to be found within the recesses of one’s own mind from one defeated by all that men hold precious. … It is an intense and throbbing human document, paralleling many of the literary masters, but always retaining a poignant individuality. … His ability to bridge the gap of his disability is no less remarkable than Helen Keller’s achievements.”

His triumphs and struggles were recounted in the media, offering praise for the new book along with admiration for Dean’s incredible courage. How could one so traumatized find positives in a life seemingly filled with negativity? Whatever the answer might be, the public found itself envying the mind of one so enlightened. Said Clute, “My blind eyes are seeing more beauty today than was ever revealed to them when they were perfect.”

For most people, a body so ravaged by disease was nothing less than a prison. The Great Depression alone was reason enough for people to give up, and many did. But not Dean Clute, who had found within himself something special.

Despite the necessity of moving for a fourth time, he remained positive about life and ever hopeful that a cure for his physical impairments might be found. Plans were in place for more articles, more books, a new bookstore, and a life among the educated and inquisitive.

Each summer he and Walton had journeyed north, visiting family on the St. Lawrence River and spending time amid his childhood haunts at Terrace West, about a mile east of Morristown. It was a wonderful time of renewal for the brothers, who shared a terrific bond from the struggles of the past decade.

But there would be no such trip in 1933. On Monday morning, March 6, Dean was found dead in his wheelchair, betrayed one final time by a body that had been in failure for fully 20 years. The coroner’s report cited heart disease as the ultimate cause of death.

The story of Clute’s life was replayed in the columns of writers who had known and admired him during the past decade. Though tragedy and inspiration were necessary themes, every writer concluded that one word above all others defined him: courage.

But that’s not how Dean saw it. The man with a beautiful mind truly felt he had lived a wonderful life. It was a viewpoint that most people simply couldn’t grasp. But in the end, he proved that life was indeed all about one word: Perspective.

Photo: H. L. Mencken admired Clute’s courage and ability to write.

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Environmental History: The Nature of New York

David Stradling, Professor and Graduate Studies Director at the University of Cincinnati, is author of The Nature of New York: An Environmental History of the Empire State. This recent (Fall 2010) survey of over four hundred years of New York’s environmental history has received praise from historians and environmental policy experts.

From the arrival of Henry Hudson’s Half Moon in the estuarial waters of what would come to be called New York Harbor to the 2006 agreement that laid out plans for General Electric to clean up the PCBs it pumped into the river named after Hudson, this work offers a sweeping environmental history of New York State. David Stradling shows how New York’s varied landscape and abundant natural resources have played a fundamental role in shaping the state’s culture and economy. Simultaneously, he underscores the extent to which New Yorkers have, through such projects as the excavation of the Erie Canal and the construction of highways and reservoir systems, changed the landscape of their state.

Surveying all of New York State since first contact between Europeans and the region’s indigenous inhabitants, Stradling finds within its borders an amazing array of environmental features, such as Niagara Falls; human intervention through agriculture, urbanization, and industrialization; and symbols, such as Storm King Mountain, that effectively define the New York identity.

Stradling demonstrates that the history of the state can be charted by means of epochs that represent stages in the development and redefinition of our relationship to our natural surroundings and the built environment; New York State has gone through cycles of deforestation and reforestation, habitat destruction and restoration that track shifts in population distribution, public policy, and the economy. Understanding these patterns, their history, and their future prospects is essential to comprehending the Empire State in all its complexity.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.


Monday, July 25, 2011

The Life Struggles of Dean Clute (Part Two)

Having planned for his condition of blindness and near total paralysis, Dean Clute forged forward without missing a beat. Other patients who were mobile and had attained some measure of literacy were enlisted to read aloud to him. There were plenty of folks to choose from, since the hospital was filled with a wide range of society’s unfortunates—the poor, the sick, and the physically disabled.

City Hospital patients were sometimes referred to by the decidedly un-PC term, “wrecks,” and some who were placed there entertained little hope of ever leaving. There was no avoiding it—Welfare Island was a notoriously dreary place to be.

Yet this paralyzed, completely blind young man had a transformative effect on the hospital. Poor readers were recruited and became good readers; nearby listeners joined the book discussions on a range of subjects; and as stories circulated through the hospital corridors, others were intrigued by this unique discussion group. The daily gathering around Dean’s bed grew, spilling out onto the hospital yard in times of good weather.

The contents of book after book had been poured into his being, and Clute’s brain, like a vessel waiting to be filled, was overflowing with knowledge. He had made himself into a scholar, and by natural progression arrived at the obvious conclusion—he must also become a writer. And so he began to dictate to his friends who recorded his words and submitted them for publication.

Among those to view his work was legendary writer and editor H. L. (Henry) Mencken, who had recently launched a new literary vehicle, The American Mercury (a magazine that ran from 1924–1981). Among other things, Mencken was an expert in the use of language, a subject he had written on extensively. He pronounced Dean’s satirical, witty writing as “good stuff.”

[In an odd bit of circumstance, Mencken was also known as a voracious reader, and 20 years later, he would suffer a stroke, leaving him similarly disabled—unimpeded mentally, but unable to read or write, and barely able to speak.]

In August 1929, Mencken published Dean’s story, “Salvation on the Brink,” in The American Mercury, and that opened the door. Others soon came calling, and the poor, blind, paralyzed young man from the North Country gained a measure of celebrity. In the next year, Dean followed with a half-dozen more articles, along with plans for a book of his own.

The remarkable story of Clute’s decade-long personal struggles reached the media and gained momentum, earning him the status of a minor cause célèbre. Prominent journalist Earl Sparling visited Dean in June 1930 and filed a story that included the following excerpts:

The man who made Welfare Island go literary lies in his wheelchair in the yard of City Hospital. Around him, soaking up the sunshine, are a dozen wrecks in gray hospital pajamas. One of them, Art by name, is reading—or trying to. The book he is reading, or trying to, is Isaac Goldberg’s The Fine Art of Living. Art never got through the eighth grade in school. He runs a heavy finger along the lines as he reads, and every second line or so comes upon a word he can’t even manage to mispronounce.

“Spell it, Art,” suggests the blind man in the wheelchair. “It’s another jaw-breaker,” growls Art, stretching his pajama-clad legs. “I’d just as soon try to say it as to spell it.” But he spells it out, haltingly, and the blind man tells him and the audience the pronunciation and the meaning. And the education of Dean Clute, the literatus of Welfare Island—and incidentally of his comrades in pajamas—continues.

Dean Clute is stone blind, and so crippled he can scarcely wiggle a finger. He has been flat on his back from arthritis for fifteen years. He has been in City Hospital for six of those fifteen. Using others in City Hospital as eyes, he has gotten through most of the philosophers, most of the lasting literature of the world, and has managed meanwhile to keep track of current book lists, with interesting results.

Today, as you wander through the wards of City Hospital, you can hear wrecks who arrived there from the Bowery discussing such things as the indebtedness of Schopenhauer to Hoffman, the modernism of Dickens’ critique of America, and the sad case of Dr. John Dewey.

It has gotten so that the nurses, interns, and the doctors are beginning to develop cultural inferiority complexes. What is a poor doctor to answer when, while thumping some patient’s backbone, he is asked, “Do you go in for Humanism, Doc?”

As Dean described it, “We start in at 8 o’clock and we stay out here in the sunshine, reading and talking until night. I’ve learned how to be happy. … I hope to have a book shop in Manhattan one day. Then I can devote myself seriously to writing. I want to write my autobiography. They say a man shouldn’t do that until he is forty. But I can’t wait. I may never get that far.”

It was truly remarkable—such inspiration arising from one of the most depressing parts of the city, and from a man who had every right and reason to throw in the towel, to give up on life altogether. But Dean Clute had given up only on his body and instead focused on his mind, developing a completely new identity. Never known as a great student, he had achieved the rarest of transformations—from a happy-go-lucky, standout athlete to a deep-thinking intellectual.

And the man had dreams. Writing articles and working on a book would have been enough, but operating his own bookstore? Impossible, sure … just like everything else he had accomplished so far.

The dream, in fact, was already on its way to reality. Working as a team, Clute and his cohorts in pajamas wrote and mailed several hundred letters to his friends and acquaintances, describing “a unique book service which presumes to deliver any book published in America to any address in the United States within six days.”

Available titles included many that the new reading group had favored, including the works of Aldous Huxley, H. L. Mencken, and Bertrand Russell. In the first two weeks they received 24 orders, which were handled by his four friends, three of whom were fellow patients.

Photo: City Hospital on Welfare Island, NY (ca. 1925).

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Jerry Jenkins to Receive Hochschild Award

The Board of Trustees of the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York has announced the selection of Jerry Jenkins as the recipient of the 2011 Harold K. Hochschild Award.

The Harold K. Hochschild Award is dedicated to the memory of the museum’s founder, whose passion for the Adirondacks, its people, and environment inspired the creation of the Adirondack Museum. Since 1990 the museum has presented the award to a wide range of intellectual and community leaders throughout the Adirondack Park, highlighting their contributions to the region’s culture and quality of life.

The Adirondack Museum will formally present Jerry Jenkins with the Harold K. Hochschild Award on August 4, 2011.

Jerry Jenkins is an ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program (WCS). An accomplished botanist, naturalist and geographer, he has almost forty years of field experience working in the Northern Forest. Over the course of his career, his work has included conducting biological inventories for The Adirondack Chapter of the Nature
Conservancy, surveying rare plant occurrences for the State of Vermont, chronicling the environmental history of acid rain with the Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation, and understanding and interpreting historical changes to boreal lowland areas in the Adirondacks with WCS. His enthusiasm for natural history has also led him to study plant diversity and distribution across various forest types – from the Champlain Hills to large working forest
easements, and from old growth forests to high elevation alpine communities.

His most recent and notable accomplishments with the Wildlife Conservation Society are his collection of Adirondack publications. Together with Andy Keal, Jerry Jenkins co-authored The The Adirondack Atlas: A Geographic Portrait of the Adirondack Park, considered one of the most significant Adirondack book in a generation. Some 300 pages in length, the Adirondack Atlas contains 750
maps and graphics, and represents the most comprehensive collection of regional data brought together in a single source. The park’s geology, flora and fauna are featured, as well as the history and the dynamic nature of the park’s human communities. Bill McKibben describes the atlas as a “great gift…that marks a coming of age.”

In his newest book Climate Change in the Adirondacks the Path to Sustainability, Jenkins demonstrates how climate change is already shifting the region’s culture, biology and economy, and provides a road map towards a more responsible and sustainable future. He provides the first comprehensive look at both the impacts of, and the potential solutions to, climate change across the Adirondack region. This compilation, along with his other regional contributions, prompted Bill McKibben to offer that “Jerry Jenkins has emerged as the information source for our mountains…and we are all in his debt.”

Photo Courtesy Leslie Karasin, Wildlife Conservation Society.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Almanack Contributor Among Literary Winners

Writers, editors, publishers, and book lovers gathered at the Blue Mountain Center in Blue Mountain Lake on Sunday to hear the announcements of the Adirondack Center for Writing’s (ACW’s) annual Adirondack Literary Award winners. Among the authors recognized was regular Adirondack Almanack contributor Tom Kalinowski. The avid outdoor enthusiast who taught field biology and ecology at Saranac Lake High School for 33 years won the Best Book of Nonfiction award for Adirondack Nature Notes: An Adirondack Almanac Sequel.

Kalinowski was one of three Almanack contributors considered for the nonfiction award, including Caperton Tissot for Adirondack Ice: A Cultural and Natural History and History of Churubusco and the Town of Clinton, Clinton County, NY by Lawrence Gooley. Gooley’s book Oliver’s War: An Adirondack Rebel Battles the Rockefeller Fortune won the Adirondack Literary Award for Best Book of Nonfiction in 2008.

The Adirondack Literary Awards celebrates and acknowledge books that were written by Adirondack authors or published in the region in the previous year.

The complete list of winners for 2011 includes:

Best Children’s Book: The Rock Singer by Betsey Thomas-Train, published by Shaggy Dog Press.

Best Book of Fiction: Jeffrey G. Kelly for Tailings published by Creative Bloc Press.

Best Memoir: Green Fields by Bob Cowser, publisher, UNO Press (University of New Orleans) with an honorable mention to Kristin Kimballs’ The Dirty Life.

Best Book of Nonfiction: Adirondack Nature Notes: An Adirondack Almanac Sequel by Tom Kalinowski, published by North Country Books, with an honorable mention going to the collection, Why We Are Here edited by Bob Cowser and published by Colgate University Press.

Best Book of Poetry: went for a record third time to the three Adirondack poets: Elaine Handley, Marilyn McCabe, Mary Sanders Shartle for their collection, Winterberry Pine: Three Poets on Adirondack Winter (30 Acre Wood Publishing). This is the third time (a record) they have won the Poetry prize.

The People’s Choice Award went to Karma in the High Peaks, a poetry collection with contributions by David Parkinson, Charles Watts, Mary Randall, Mary Anne Johnson, Judith Dow Moore, and Chuck Gibson, published by RA Press.

Judges for the Adirondack Literary Award were:

Nonfiction and memoir: Linda Cohen and Jerry McGovern

Fiction: Ellen Rocco and Joseph

Poetry: Stephanie Coyne-DeGhett and Maurice Kenny

Children’s Literature: Danielle Hoepfl and Nancy Beattie

A complete list of the books considered this year can be found online.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Adirondack Center For Writing Open Mics

The Adirondack Center for Writing’s will host a monthly open mic series starting in June, in collaboration with several venues around the Adirondack Park. The series pairs readings from a featured author or poet, as well as an open forum to share your own writing.

The Willows Bistro in Warrensburg, NY hosts Open Mic Night on the second Thursday of every month. ACW will co-sponsor those events at the Willows every June, September, December, and March. For our first collaboration, June 9th, the featured author will be Paul Pines, (author of “Last Call at the Tin Palace” and “My Brother’s Madness”), Bibi Wein (“The Way Home”) in September, and in December, Mary Sanders Shartle (“Winterberry Pine: Three Poets on Adirondack Winter”). More information is available online.

The Northwoods Inn at Lake Placid will hold readings on the second Thursday in July with reader Maggie Bartley, October with Charles Watt, and next January and April with readers TBA. The Old Forge Library will host on the second Wednesday in August with reader Paula Roy, and in November, February and May.

All events are free and open to the public. If you’re interested in sharing your work email [email protected] with the subject line “OPEN MIC” followed by the venue and date you’re interested in sharing.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Writers Workshop in Warrensburg

Willows Bistro and Fiction Among Friends will collaborate to present actress/director/teacher Filomena Riviello at a June 27th daylong workshop on the subject “Effective Public Reading: How to read your work so people think you are the best writer since Dickens.” Riviello, who worked in New York City as a professional actress and director for over 20 years, has directed shows at ACC and for Our Town Theatre Group, and popular workshop leader for the Warrensburgh Historical Society’s Graveyard Walks, selected the subtitle.

“A lot of people don’t know that it was through public readings that Charles Dickens managed to sell his novels in America, where there was not a large market for them. He made a book tour here, and people were so moved by his readings, they bought his books,” Riviello said.

Persis Granger of Fiction Among Friends, with the help of Bistro owner Debbie Swan, created the Second Thursday Readings at Willows Bistro in Warrensburg to provide aspiring writers a time and place to read short selections from their works for the public. “All of the writers have enjoyed the opportunity,” she said, “but many realized that there is a lot to know about reading effectively. Enter Filomena!”

The workshop will begin at 10 a.m. and run until about 4 p.m., and the $40 fee will include a pre-selected luncheon. Those wishing to attend should reserve a spot by contacting Granger at [email protected] or 623-9305 as soon as possible, as enrollment is limited to ensure lots of individualized instruction. Writers are invited to bring as many short (about three minute) writing selections as they hope to work on. To learn more, visit “Fiction Among Friends at Willows Bistro”.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Adirondack Literary Awards Ceremony Announced

The Adirondack Center for Writing at Paul Smith’s College will present its annual Adirondack Literary Awards on June 12th at the Blue Mountain Center. Authors and poets from across the North Country submitted their work in March and will be honored by a panel of judges in the categories of fiction, poetry, children’s literature, memoir, nonfiction, and photography as well as a “People’s Choice Award.” The work of three regular contributors here at the Almanack are being considered this year. Adirondack Nature Notes: An Adirondack Almanac Sequel by Tom Kalinowski; Adirondack Ice: A Cultural and Natural History by Caperton Tissot; and History of Churubusco and the Town of Clinton, Clinton County, NY by Lawrence Gooley will be considered in the non-fiction category.

The Adirondack Center for Writing is a resource and educational organization that provides support to writers and enhances literary activity and communication throughout the Adirondacks. The event is FREE and open to the public, but space will be limited so reserve your seat through the ACW – 518.327.6278 or [email protected]

Submissions for this year’s Awards include:

In Children’s Literature, Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto, by Eric Luper; A Day at the Fair by Judyann Grant; The Rock Singer by Betsey Thomas Train; Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner; and The Adirondack Kids 10: The Final Daze of Summer by Justin and Gary VanRiper.

In Fiction, Rehabilitation by Timothy J. Brearton; Adirondack Detective The Years Pass by John H. Briant; Saying Goodbye to Port Davis High by Dave Donohue; Mission to Xan by C.W. Dingman; Tailings by Jeffrey G. Kelly; and Incidental Contact by Chuck Walley

In Memoir, submissions include The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball; Green Fields by Bob Cowser; and Yabanci: An American Teacher in Turkey by Dave Donohue.

In Nonfiction, Why We Are Here edited by Bob Cowser; Adirondack Nature Notes: An Adirondack Almanac Sequel by Tom Kalinowski; Adirondack Ice: A Cultural and Natural History by Caperton Tissot; History of Churubusco and the Town of Clinton, Clinton County, NY by Lawrence Gooley; Haunted New York Volume 4 by Cheri Farnsworth; and See and Be Seen: Saratoga in the Victorian Era by Dr Hollis Palmer.

In Poetry, Winterberry Pine: Three Poets on Adirondack Winter by Elaine Handley, Marilyn McCabe, and Mary Sanders Shartle; Wanderings Through White Church by Mary Anne Johnson; Transfiguration by Pat Shannon Leonard; Set Theory by Georganna Millman; The One Good Bite in the Saw-Grass Plant; A poet in the Everglades by Roger Mitchell; and Lawless Adirondack Haiku by Sean Tierney and Karma in the High Peaks.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Adirondack Lost Ski Area Book Forthcoming

Author Jeremy Davis of Saratoga Springs recently announced he has begun work on a new book to be titled Lost Ski Areas of the Adirondacks. The new volume, Davis’s third in the series, will be published by The History Press, and will focus on the 50-60 lost ski areas in the region. Davis touched upon some of the fascinating history of these ski areas when I chatted with him back in January.

“The Adirondacks are filled with the ghosts of former ski areas,” Davis said. “They range from the first J-bar in New York State in Lake George, to short rope tows at hotels in Lake Placid, to large planned resorts that were never completed like Lowenburg near Lyon Mountain.”

Lost Ski Areas of the Adirondacks will be written over the course of the next 12 months, according to Davis, and is expected to be in print in the late summer of 2012. Davis says that he has already been researching areas, locating photos and maps.

The book is expected to be a bit different than Davis’s previous two books (Lost Ski Areas of the White Mountains and Lost Ski Areas of Southern Vemont) in that it is expected to have fewer photos and maps, but more background information and personal stories. Davis said that he will define the Adirondack region as within and “slightly outside” the Blue Line, including areas that were marketed as Adirondack ski areas.

If you skied at a lost area in the Adirondacks and would like to share a memory, or if you have any photos, contact Davis at [email protected]. Additional information can be found at the website of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project (NELSAP).

Photo: Paleface postcard courtesy www.teachski.com.

Jeff Farbaniec is an avid telemark skier and a 46er who writes The Saratoga Skier & Hiker, a blog of his primarily Adirondack outdoor adventures.


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Curt Stager’s Fresh Look at Climate Change

Paul Smiths College Professor Curt Stager’s new book, Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth (St. Martin’s Press, 2011) is a fresh look at global climate change. Stager’s approach is that of the paleoecologist, a discipline that has traditionally been focused on reconstructing the paleoenvironment using the fossil record to clarify the relationship that plants, animals, and humans have to their environment in the past.

Typically, paleoecological researchers have aimed their attentions on the Quaternary period (the last two million years), particularity with studies of the Holocene epoch (the last 11,000 years), or the Pleistocene glaciation period (50,000 to 10,000 years ago). Stager’s Deep Future looks in the other direction, 100,000 years into the future.

Stager is quick to point out that no, humans won’t go extinct; some species will win, some lose, because after temperatures rise, they’ll fall (at a slower rate). Deep Future is built around the Anthropocene, the first epoch in which humans have come to influence the Earth’s ecosystems.

Scientists are somewhat divided over when the Anthropocene begins. Some suggest 8,000 years ago, when we began clearing forests to raise animals and grow crops during the Neolithic Revolution, others establish a date as late as the Industrial Revolution of the 1750s. Both agree that what’s significant is that atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is increasing at a faster rate, and to a much greater extent, that previous glacial-interglacial cycles of the past million years, and that humans are the cause.

Deep Future illuminates the changes of the coming 100,000 years, among them the effect we’ve already had in delaying the next ice age. Describing himself as a “converted climate skeptic” thanks in part to research at Paul Smiths into weather and lake ice records in the Adirondacks, Stager explores the idea that our distant descendants may well applaud us for the changes we cause, but many of the earth’s species will suffer dramatic transformations. Acidification of our oceans will impact sea species, shifting micro climates will force great species migrations to adapt, which on land may be blocked by human development.

The bottom line of Deep Future is that what we decide to do now about controlling our carbon emissions will have tremendous impacts on our future descendants. Putting it into an even larger context, Stager offers this unique perspective: “If we burn through all our fossil fuels now, we will leave nothing for the people of the future to burn to stave off future ice ages and prevent the crushing devastation of migrating ice sheets.”

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Books: Best Easy Day Hikes

Saranac Lake native Lisa Densmore has just published her second Adirondack guidebook within the past year: Best Easy Day Hikes: Adirondacks, a selection of twenty-two hikes, most of them under four miles.

Densmore chose the hikes from her longer book, Adirondack Hiking, reviewed here . The descriptions have been condensed and the photos dispensed with. As a result, the new book is slimmer (126 pages), more compact (4¼ by 7 inches), and less expensive ($9.95). It fits easily into a backpack.

All of these hikes are worth doing. People may differ on how easy they are, as all of them involve climbing to a summit or lookout. Perhaps Best Short Climbs would have been a more accurate title.

Half of the hikes are less than three miles. The easiest is probably Bald Mountain outside Old Forge: a two-mile round trip with only 353 feet of ascent. Only four hikes are longer than five miles. The hardest is Noonmark Mountain in Keene: 6.3 miles round trip with 2,100 feet of ascent.

At the top of each chapter, Densmore lists the following facts about the hike: total distance, type of hike (“out and back” or loop), highest point, vertical gain, hiking time, and canine compatibility. Each chapter also includes a map, driving directions (with GPS coordinates), and a list of waypoints along the hike, such as trail junctions, with their distances from the trailhead.

Densmore is a good writer who packs a lot of trail details into a small space (“the canopy opens briefly as you wind through a small clearing of ferns”), giving hikers a good sense of what to expect. She also identifies trees and wildflowers that grow alongside the trails and weaves in historical tidbits when appropriate.

The hikes are spread throughout the Adirondacks, though there is a heavier concentration in the High Peaks region. Ten of the trails lead to fire towers.

If you’re looking for an introduction to the Adirondacks, Best Easy Day Hikes is a good choice at a low price. Eventually, you may want to buy a more comprehensive guidebook, such as Densmore’s earlier book (both were published by Falcon Guides) or one of the others on the market.

Click here to read about a hike up Loon Lake Mountain that I took with Lisa while she was working on her first Adirondack guidebook.

NOTE: This review will appear in the May/June issue of the Adirondack Explorer, which we are about to send to the printer. The magazine also will include articles about the financing of the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort, the continued decline of bats, the local-food scene, a family camping trip on Forked Lake, and the death of Jim Goodwin, among other subjects. Our centerspread is a gallery of wildflowers that paddlers are apt to see on Adirondack streams and ponds.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cracking Noah John Rondeau’s Code

On Saturday of Easter weekend, April 23, Dave Greene of Johnsburg and Syracuse will present a power point program in North Creek about how he broke the secret code of Noah John Rondeau (1883 to 1967), the Adirondack hermit who lived ten miles back in the wilderness for 30 years. Rondeau was sure no one would ever decipher his journals, which was written in a code simple enough for him to write in every day but which had some diabolical variations.

Like many hermits, Rondeau was very sociable and was well-loved by many mountain hikers and sportsmen who were glad to carry in food and other supplies for him in exchange for colorful stories and scratchy fiddling. They tried to avoid having to partake of his “everlasting stew”, however. Game wardens were definitely not welcome visitors.

At the age of 22, when Greene, just out of college, was living pretty much as a hermit himself at the foot of Crane Mt. in his family’s primitive cabin, he had time to focus on the puzzling “hen scratchings”. After just 22 hours of work, he had the gist of the code, though some problems and meanings of words remained mysterious. For a good description of Rondeau, the code and Greene’s work, see the February issue of the DEC Conservationist magazine, though the time frame given for breaking the code is not accurate.

The program, in which Greene will explain how he deciphered the code and also teach the audience how to do it , will be held at 7 p.m. in Tannery Pond Community Center, opposite the town hall/library on Main Street, North Creek. Donations will be accepted for the support of the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP), a volunteer water monitoring project of Protect the Adirondacks, in partnership with the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) of Paul Smiths College.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia.